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‘Who Killed Roger Rabbit’ and ‘Pink Panther’ animator Richard Williams dies at 86


Animator Richard Williams attends The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Celebrates the Animated Genius Of Richard Williams at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on October 4, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Ben Horton/WireImage)

Richard Williams, the Oscar-winning animator behind classics like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” has died. He was 86.

Williams, who also worked on popular films including “Casino Royale” passed away at his home in Bristol on Friday, his family told BBC. The renowned creator had cancer but “was still animating and writing until the day he died,” his daughter, Natasha Sutton Williams said.

He’s best known for creating the characters Roger Rabbit and his bombshell love interest, Jessica Rabbit, while serving as the director of animation for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” The 1988 film, which starred Bob Haskins, blended live actions performances with his original cartoon characters as well as others from across the genre.

Williams also had a hand in the beloved “Pink Panther” franchise. He served as the lead animator on both “The Return of Pink Panther” and “The Pink Panther Strikes Again,” and he helped animate the title sequence.

His first-ever animated short, “The Little Island” earned him a BAFTA in 1958 while his work on “A Christmas Carol” earned him his first Oscar – for best animated short film – in 1973.

In 1989, he nabbed the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” as well as a Special Achievement Oscar from The Academy – granted for “exceptional contribution to the motion picture for which it was created, but for which there is no annual award category.”

Williams has often credited the Disney classic “Snow White” for his passion and career in animation, saying it made a “tremendous impression” on him.

“I always wanted, when I was a kid, to get to Disney. I was a clever little fellow so I took my drawing and eventually I got in,” he told the BBC in 2008.

Shortly after, he was told to learn to draw properly and suddenly “lost all interest in animation” until he turned 23. He was drawn back to his craft, he said, because his “paintings were trying to move.”

With News Wire Services